Intellectual Property

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Outline

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property deals with protecting one’s creations.

The firms approach.

The legal framework around Intellectual Property (IP) in Malawi is very broad and encompasses a variety of areas. Malawian statutory law protects the following forms: patents, trademarks, registered designs and copyright. A patent is generally understood as a form of intellectual property that recognizes an exclusive right on a person who invents or discovers some process or thing to make, use, sell, or assign it for a certain period of time. It is generally covered by the Patents Act. For instance computer software. A trademark is a mark used or proposed to be used in relation to goods for the purpose of indicating, or so as to indicate, a connexion in the course of trade between the goods and some person having the right either as a proprietor or as a registered user to use the mark, whether with or without any indication of the identity of that person, and means, in relation to certification to a certification trade mark, a mark registered or deemed to have been registered under the Trademarks Act. They are often associated with a business’ image, goodwill, and reputation, and are usually used as references to trade and indicate quality and value for money associated with the goods or services. An example is clothing line’s label like Nike. Copyright is an exclusive property right that belongs to authors of any work by the mere fact of its creation. It protects not the ideas, but the manner or form in which the ideas have been expressed. For instance a book or song. Finally registered designs are features of shape, configuration, pattern, or ornament, applied to an article by any industrial design process or means, being features which in the finished article appeal to and are judged solely by the eye, but does not include a method or principle of construction or features of shape or configuration which are dictated solely by the functions of which the article to be made in that shape or configuration has to perform. It is protected by the Registered Designs Act. Thus rights in registered designs occupy a midway between rights in copyright and those associated with trademarks. As many consumer products become similar, designs are used to separate them for the convenience of the consumer. For instance the specific shape of a bottle etc.

International law also protects IP in Malawi through treaties it signs as a member of World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) for instance Strasbourg Agreement Concerning the International Patent Classification and Locarno Agreement Establishing an International Classification for Industrial Designs.

The courts, through the common law, have also developed forms of intellectual property. These include confidence, protecting which protects confidential information, and business goodwill and reputation which protects organisations and institution’s reputation and goodwill.

We at Ritz Attorneys-At-Law pride ourselves on our IP expertize. Recognizing the importance of IP such as product good will and reputation, we ensure that our clients’ products’ reputation as well the company’s image are well secured by providing guidance in the management of corporations and ensuring that they operate within the limits of the law. We also ensure that our clients’ interests are well secured in whatever endeavours they venture in and protect their inventions or creations by providing an integrated cross-border advice and representation.

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